CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – Prosecutors are appealing last month’s acquittal of a former Republican Party official on phone harassment charges stemming from a plot to jam state Democratic Party phone lines on Election Day 2002.

U.S. District Court Judge Steven McAuliffe cleared James Tobin, of Bangor, Maine, on Feb. 21, saying that he had been “constrained” by a 2007 appeals court ruling to conclude he was entitled to acquittal.

McAuliffe wrote then that the legal question at issue would eventually be addressed by the appellate court.

Federal prosecutors filed a notice of appeal this week.

Tobin, the former regional chairman of President Bush’s re-election campaign, was convicted in federal court in 2005 of helping arrange more than 800 hang-up calls that jammed get-out-the-vote phone lines set up by the state Democratic Party and the Manchester firefighters’ union for about an hour.

Republican John Sununu defeated then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen for the Senate that day.

But the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction last year, sending it back to McAuliffe, who scheduled a new trial for Tobin that was to have started last month. The appeals court ruled that Tobin’s actions did not fit the specific law he was convicted of violating.

At the time of the phone jamming, Tobin was a regional official with the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, overseeing Senate campaigns in several states. He went on to serve as President Bush’s New England re-election campaign chairman in 2004, but resigned after the allegations surfaced.

The jamming has led to four criminal prosecutions and a lawsuit that was settled with Republicans paying the Democrats $135,000. The Democrats had sought $4.1 million.



Information from: New Hampshire Union Leader, http://www.unionleader.com

AP-ES-03-14-08 2103EDT


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